On Wednesday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley made it clear that he intended to object when Congress convenes to certify the Electoral College vote next week. The move is an arguably futile attempt — a last-ditch effort to reverse the presidential election results that will, at best, briefly delay president-elect Joe Biden’s inevitable inauguration on January 20.
“At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections,” Hawley said in a statement. “But Congress has so far failed to act.”
So what exactly does this mean going forward? On January 6, Congress will count the Electoral College votes. Should Hawley contest it like he claims he will, the challenge will prompt a floor debate followed by a vote in the House of Representatives followed by the Senate. This is likely to fail given that Democrats control the House. Further, a number of Senate Republicans have already publicly recognized Biden’s victory — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In the unlikely event Trump succeeds in the Senate, leaving Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote, the challenge would still fail given the House vote, reports The Washington Post.
Spurred on by Trump’s unwillingness to admit defeat, there are some Republican members of the House, led by Rep. Mo Brooks, that said they also plan to challenge votes in swing states come January 6. Still, there is another group of Republicans who have argued that to force members to decide whether or not to prove their loyalty to Trump in an inevitably failing vote would only cause political harm as it would appear to be ignoring the will of the voters. Even McConnell reportedly advised against it in a call with fellow Republicans earlier this month.
So far, President Donald Trump and his allies have filed dozens of lawsuits alleging voter fraud. At least 50 have been denied, dismissed, settled, or withdrawn. Earlier this month, 106 House Republicans, led by Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson, signed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. But even this show of support was thwarted when the Supreme Court rejected the suit saying it lacked standing. According to NBC News, only five cases remained active leading up to the holidays. One ruling even went as far as to comment that “calling an election unfair does not make it so.”
This standing appointment with defeat has not deterred Trump from playing up the joint session of Congress as a possible turning point in his ineffectual quest to upend the election results. Just this Sunday, Trump tweeted, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it.”
While there is no doubt that Hawley supports Trump, it is possible that this impending objection has more to do with his own future career in politics. According to The Washington Post, the senator has mentioned a potential 2024 presidential run. This move, successful or not, is bound to appeal to Trump supporters and other parts of the Republican voter base which appears to be the subtext behind what many believe to be a pointless maneuver.